Three or four decades ago, Hope Secondary was known as a provincial powerhouse in high school basketball.
A number of factors have come into play since then — including a sizable drop in the student population. As well, community-based programs for elementary-aged kids have been developed in larger centres, giving down-valley players a great head start in the sport.
Now a local parent, pastor and volunteer coach is looking to bring some of that competitive advantage to Hope. Jeff Kuhn made some inquiries and has secured the Steve Nash basketball program for Grade 5 to 7 students, which he hopes to run this spring.
“We used to have the Friday night basketball league for kids and since that stopped, I’ve seen the quality of our high school program drop,” said Kuhn.
“We’ve got the athletes but they just haven’t had the time on the floor and we haven’t been prepping them enough. In Grade 8 and 9, we’re still teaching them the basic skills that they could have learned in Grade 5 and 6.”
Kuhn said he has gotten commitments from parents and other adults in the community to help with coaching and he plans to use high school students to assist in coaching and running the score clock.
Mustang alumnus and 2010 grad Linden Willock is among those who have offered to help coach.
“Mike McNeill — Allison’s husband — is big with Basketball BC and he’ll be coming up to work with the coaches on April 10,” said Kuhn. Allison coached the Canadian Olympic women’s team at the London Olympics and her father, Alvin Towris, lives in Hope.
“Some parents feel a little uneasy about coaching — but the Steve Nash program is pretty much a system. They supply a plan that runs step by step for each lesson, telling you what to be working on and how to do it.”
Kuhn said a great resource online is at coachesclipboard.ca, which he uses a lot. The website has videos, fun drills and games to practice the skills. The program teaches basic skills of footwork without the ball, shooting techniques, passing and catching, positioning — and “dribbling with both hands – preferably one at a time!”
“Kids need to learn how to look up when they are dribbling and how to dribble with their weak hand,” added Kuhn.
He has the high school gym booked for the Monday and Thursday evening sessions, which are planned to start on April 22. Now, it’s up to the parents and kids to show their interest and support.
“I’d love to have 40 kids come out,” said Kuhn. “I’d love to have 80 — but we need at least enough for two boys’ and two girls’ teams.
“We would practice on one night, probably using half of the gym for each group, then on the next night we’d have games. I’d like to use the whole court, as it’s such a beautiful facility. Coaches will coach in their game but help ref the other one.”
The cost is $50 for 13 sessions. The Steve Nash program supplies the insurance, coaching materials, a reversible jersey and a draw-string gear bag.
There are three registration sessions at the Blue Moose, starting this Saturday (April 6) from 10 a.m. until noon. Registration will also take place on April 10, from 7-8 p.m., and April 13, from 10 a.m. until noon.